The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission made several changes to marine life management Wednesday in Tampa.
Marine life is defined as tropical ornamental species often collected and displayed in aquariums.
These changes include a three-year prohibition on the recreational and commercial harvest of the giant Caribbean sea anemone.
The giant anemone is a popular species in the aquarium trade, but commercial harvesters have expressed concerns about declining population numbers, especially after the 2010 cold snap. The three-year closure will allow the species time to rebuild. Staff plans to return to the Commission within three years with a proposal for future management of this species.
Other changes and clarifications:
Unicorn filefish, sand perch and dwarf sand perch were removed from the marine life classification, which will allow these species to be harvested with traditional fishing gear such as hook and line and cast net, and without requiring they be kept in an aerated live well. The recreational bag limit of five of each species per day no longer applies.
Extending size limits for angelfish to any hybrid forms of the species.
Applying commercial size limits for angelfish and butterfly fish to all harvesters, including recreational.
Reefs built by Sabellarid tube worms are live rock and cannot be harvested.
Harvest of black corals is now prohibited.
Defining snapping shrimp to include all snapping shrimp species.
Five FWC workshops in April and May were used to gather input on the changes, which affect all harvest in Florida state waters, 9 nautical miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico and 3 nautical miles from shore in the Atlantic.
To learn more about these changes, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and follow the links to the agenda for the Sept. 5-6, 2012 Commission meeting.